HEALTHY FAMILIES: State Board Backs Wilson’s Request To Scale Back Eligibility
"At Gov. Pete Wilson's urging, a state board on Monday scaled back" the state's new Healthy Families program, designed to utilize state and federal dollars to provide health insurance to poor children. The Sacramento Bee reports that "the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board voted 3-2 to apply a stricter income threshold to parents applying for Healthy Families." Under the plan originally approved by the federal government, and which Wilson said was signed in error, families with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level after deductions for "child care, child support and alimony," could qualify. "Wilson said state lawmakers did not intend for those deductions to be included when they passed Healthy Families last year," and requested that they be removed.
What They Said
Opponents criticized the action, saying "the alteration will unfairly prohibit thousands of low-income children from obtaining coverage, will complicate the enrollment procedure and may delay the program's start date, scheduled for July 1." Lucy Quacinella of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said, "Many thousands of children in families whose parents work and who can't afford health insurance are going to lose because of this. It makes absolutely no sense." State Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Van Nuys) has already introduced a measure "that would effectively reverse the medical insurance board's vote reinstating qualifying income at lower levels." Wilson spokesperson Sean Walsh defended the changes, saying, "We believe this is a fair and appropriate plan." The administration did not have numbers on how many children would be affected by the revision. The federal Health Care Financing Administration must approve the changes to the legislation in order for the state to keep the matching funds, the Bee reports (Young, 4/21).